Eight out of 10 Waikato school bus routes earmarked for withdrawal in 2018 will continue to be provided by the Ministry of Education following a review involving the ministry, affected schools, the NZ Transport Agency and Waikato Regional Council.
This update was outlined in a report to today’s multi-agency regional transport committee meeting.
The buses bring pupils from outlying areas into special character schools in Hamilton. The ministry signalled the withdrawal of the 10 ministry-funded routes by next year on the basis that suitable public transport services may be available.
The joint review explored the practically of the alternative routes for students and for eight of the 10 routes it was agreed that the most effective option was to retain the current school bus services.
The school bus routes that may still be subject to change in 2018 include the services from Morrinsville to Sacred Heart Girls College and from Cambridge to St Johns College.
“It’s great that we have been able to reach agreement on eight of the 10 ministry-funded services being retained,” said the council’s public transport operations manager Andrew Wilson.
“We are now considering options in relation to the two remaining services that ensures, if necessary, that we will have sufficient capacity on public buses for all passengers and that we can deliver a quality journey experience every time.”
The report said passengers from the Cambridge to St Johns service could probably be accommodated on existing public transport but pupils using the current Morrinsville to Sacred Heart service may not be so easily accommodated on public transport without additional buses being provided. The regional council is seeking feedback from affected schools and relevant funding partners as to how it will respond.
However, the committee resolved today that the ministry should not make any changes to these two services until the committee had a chance to consider its views on how this issue of ministry funding should be handled nationally. Waikato Regional Council has been working with others to seek a “whole of government” policy approach to this issue.